How Many Coffins Can Go in a Grave?

The question “how many coffins can go in a grave?” may seem macabre at first glance, but it’s an important logistical consideration for cemeteries, funeral directors, and families making burial arrangements. As the human population grows and land for burial becomes scarcer, this issue is becoming increasingly relevant. Below, we’ll explore the different burial practices and methods that determine the number of coffins in a grave.

Traditional Single Burial

Traditionally, one grave contains a single coffin. This method, often preferred for its simplicity, allows a designated plot for an individual, marking their resting place with a headstone or grave marker.

Double-depth Burials

In many modern cemeteries, especially in urban areas where space is at a premium, double-depth graves are common. These graves are dug deeper than traditional single graves, accommodating two coffins stacked vertically. The first interment is placed at the bottom, and when the time comes, the second coffin is placed above it.


  • Economical use of cemetery space.
  • Families can be buried together, maintaining a sense of closeness in the event of a death.

Family Plots:

Some families opt for larger burial plots, known as family plots. These plots can accommodate multiple coffins, often arranged side-by-side or in double-depth fashion. They’re designated specifically for members of a single family.


  • Keeps family members together in one location.
  • Can be more cost-effective over the long term than buying individual plots.

Columbarium Niche

For those who choose cremation over burial, a columbarium offers niches (small spaces) to store urns. Though not a “grave” in the traditional sense, it serves a similar purpose. Each niche typically holds one urn, though larger niches might store multiple urns from the same family.

Environmental and Legal Considerations

It’s essential to note that the number of coffins a grave can hold is not just a matter of space. Environmental considerations, such as the groundwater table and soil composition, can affect burial practices. Additionally, local regulations and cemetery policies dictate how many bodies can be buried in a single plot.

Technological Innovations in Burial

The ever-evolving world of technology has not left the realm of burials untouched. Advancements in various fields have given rise to intriguing methods of interment. One such innovation is the digital tombstone, which allows visitors to view pictures, videos, and biographies of the deceased through a touchscreen interface. Not only does this serve as a way to remember loved ones, but it also offers an interactive experience for visitors and future generations.

Another area seeing technological integrationin funeral services is in the design and construction of coffins. Eco-friendly materials, including those that speed up decomposition, or those embedded with seeds to allow a tree to grow from the burial site, are becoming more prevalent. These approaches ensure a more sustainable relationship with the earth, even in death.

Psychological and Emotional Considerations

The manner in which we lay our loved ones to rest isn’t just about logistics or environmental concerns. There’s a deep-seated psychological component that shapes our choices. For many, the grave serves as a physical space to mourn, remember, and connect with the departed. Thus, the idea of sharing that space with multiple coffins or remains can elicit varied emotional responses.

For some families, placing relatives together in a shared grave fosters a sense of unity and continuity. It’s comforting to think of loved ones being together, mirroring the closeness they shared in life. Conversely, others might prefer individual graves to maintain a personal space for each deceased member, upholding their unique identities.

Moreover, the very act of visiting cemeteries and graves has therapeutic value for many. It offers a quiet moment to reflect, grieve, and find closure. The design, location, and arrangement of graves play a significant role in shaping this healing experience.

In the end, the decision of how many coffins to place in a grave is deeply personal, informed by a mix of cultural, economic, environmental, and emotional factors.

Future Burial Practice

With increasing concern about land use and environmental impacts, new burial methods are emerging:

Natural Burials: These eco-friendly burials use biodegradable coffins or shrouds and avoid embalming fluids, allowing the body to return to nature more quickly.

Vertical Burials: Some propose the idea of burying coffins vertically to save space, though it’s still a relatively novel concept.

As societies continue to evolve, so too do their practices surrounding death and burial. The need for sustainable, respectful, and cost-effective burial options has never been more acute, leading to innovative solutions that challenge traditional norms while accommodating the desires of the deceased and their families. In this light, the future of burial practices appears to be shifting towards even more environmentally friendly and space-efficient methods.

Urbanisation and Its Challenges

The rapid urbanisation of our world presents unique challenges for burial practices. Cities are becoming denser, and the premium on land space has necessitated a rethinking of how we honour and lay to rest our loved ones. Urban cemeteries, already stretched thin, are seeking alternatives to traditional burial methods. This has led to increased interest in multi-level underground catacombs, similar to those found in ancient history but updated with modern technology to ensure safety, dignity, and accessibility. These structures can house a far greater number of remains in a smaller footprint, offering a solution to the land scarcity issue while respecting the need for individual memorials.

Digital Memorialisation

The digital age has introduced new ways to memorialise the deceased. Beyond digital tombstones, online memorial platforms allow families and friends to contribute photos, stories, and messages, creating a living, evolving tribute that can reach far beyond the geographical limitations of a physical grave. This digital legacy becomes a collective memory, accessible to anyone, anywhere, and can be especially comforting for those who cannot travel to the burial site. It also opens up the possibility of virtual reality experiences, where one can visit a virtual representation of the deceased’s final resting place or life milestones.

Community and Memorial Forests

Another emerging trend is the creation of memorial forests, where the ashes of the deceased are used to nourish a newly planted tree or an existing forest. This method aligns with the natural burial philosophy, emphasising a return to the earth and contributing to reforestation efforts. These forests become sacred spaces of remembrance and environmental renewal, where families can visit and find solace in the knowledge that their loved ones are part of a thriving ecosystem.

Legal and Cultural Adaptations

As new burial practices gain popularity, legal frameworks and cultural perceptions are adapting. Governments and municipalities are beginning to recognise the need for legislation that accommodates alternative burial methods, ensuring they meet health, safety, and environmental standards. Culturally, there’s a gradual shift in perception as discussions about death become more open and progressive. These conversations are helping to destigmatize death and explore burial as an extension of environmental consciousness and personal legacy.

Personalisation of Funerals

The trend towards personalised funeral services reflects a broader societal shift towards individualism and away from one-size-fits-all solutions. People are increasingly seeking unique ways to say goodbye, incorporating hobbies, passions, and life stories into the ceremony. This move towards personalisation extends to burial practices, with individuals and families seeking options that reflect the deceased’s values and beliefs, whether that means a traditional burial, a natural return to the earth, or becoming part of a coral reef in the ocean.

Contact Victoria Funeral Home Today

While the traditional notion is that a grave holds one coffin, evolving practices and considerations are challenging this convention. Whether for reasons of economy, environmental concern, or family wishes, the approach to burial and the number of coffins in a grave is a topic of ongoing evolution and discussion. Contact our friendly and professional team at Victoria Funeral Home in Aberdeen today. We have been providing funeral services throughout the local area for many years and we have established a fantastic reputation for the personal and caring nature we provide.